Hello. I’m writing to you from the back of my YA Lit class. Last week we had to propose a book to add to the sylabus to read this month and I recommended As Many Nows as I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl … and it was just voted in.
I recommended this book for various reasons: it’s a story about that transition from high school to college with these characters reailsing that, while they were the stars in their hometown, they’re now just another fish in the sea. We see these characters battle with drug addictions – as an addict and as somebody close to an addict, and it also has a teen pregnancy plotline. While many serious topics are brought up, it’s never glamourised and always depicts a realistic representation of such things.
The other reason I recommended it is because I just loved this book and will happily take any opportunity to read it again or force other people to read. Now, however, I’m scared that (if the bookstore is able to stock it), my class is going to read it and hate it.
So anyways, this is the book I proposed and it was actually my first choice but it has made me think: what other YA books would I recommend for this class?
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
There was actually three books I noted down in my notebook, the first I’ve obviously already mentioned, the second was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas which somebody else ended up proposing, and the third was Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson.
After years of wanting to read this book, I finally picked it up back in March and was entirely engrossed by it. It feels wrong to say I “loved” it because it made me really uncomfortable at times but I couldn’t stop reading it.
This book, despite how quickly I got through it, was packed with heavy topics as it follows a teenage girl called Enchanted who’s dreams of becoming a famous singer comes true when she meets legendary R&B artist Korey Fields. Trigger warnings for: abuse, sexual assault, grooming, underage drinking, drugs.
Ultimately I felt like these topics were maybe too much for a class, especially a class that most people are taking as an easy elective.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
And now we’re moving into the two books that I’ve only just thought about and think could be good study in a class like this. First up I would suggest The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.
For one thing this is a super short and easy book to read as it’s told in prose. I’m only one year and two weeks done with my degree but I really appreciate being assigned short books.
Besides that though I think this has a lot to say about mother/daughter relationships and the difference in how daughters are treated compared to sons. I’m the first one to complain about having to read and analyze poetry for class because there is not a single poetic bone in my body, but this book actually made me want to read more poetry which is another reason I think it could be good.
Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn
Hmmmm maybe I’m being biased again because I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Erin Hahn so far and I think she’s sorely underrated but I have other reasons too!!
The main theme throughout this book is religious trauma and the characters finding a relationship with religion that works for them. There’s a lot of discussion on purity culture and how that’s always a responsibility pushed on the girls, and also the sins of a father being pushed onto the son.
America is a pretty religious place, or at least they’re more vocal in their religion then they are back home, so I think this could be a good one to read while at a uni in America. And again, my lecturer had us listen to a YA related Ted Talk the first week which focused a lot on a characters transformation in YA and I feel like this book has the characters transform in the best possible ways and really find themselves individually while still having a solid romatic relationship which is of course also a main feature.
I’m not saying this YA class is making me consider getting my PHD so I can one day become a professor or lecturer and one day teach my own class and set my own reading list but ….
I’m really looking forward to the books on this reading list – we’ve already read a book by Laurie Halse Anderson, and then we’ve also got Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C. Stevens among a bunch of others.
I’d love to know if you guys have ever taken a class like this? Would you? And what books would you most like to read for a YA class? Thanks for reading :))